Jump to content

Best non-fiction book


  • Please log in to reply
55 replies to this topic

#1 Rosepickles

Posted 14 January 2013 - 01:23 PM

Hi all, would love recommendations for any good non-fiction books you have read lately or whenever really. Im not really into biography or autobiography type books, more interesting reads on history, politics, philosophy or just any interesting topic really. I am not very well read outside of the fiction world, but read Guns, Germs and Steel last year and enjoyed being educated (on something outside of my uni work) whilst i read. I guess i would prefer books that are not too difficult to read, i have to read academic articles all the time so something a little entertaining would be nice original.gif    
Thanks

#2 Sugared

Posted 14 January 2013 - 01:30 PM

At Home by Bill Bryson is an interesting read original.gif

#3 peckingbird

Posted 14 January 2013 - 01:34 PM

I'm reading a biography about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was a theologian and dissident anti-Nazi, with associations with the Resistance movement and was also involved in the plot to assassinate Hitler.

He was living in the USA during the war but made the decision to return to Germany because he felt morally obliged to continue the fight against the holocaust even though it meant leaving the security of the US and putting his life at risk by returning to Germany.

Very interesting read, and as I have just returned from a trip to Europe, where I visited Dachau, it is very relevant for me at the moment.

ETA:  Ergh, should have read your post properly, I'm an idiot.  You've said you're not into biographies, duh.  Sorry.  It's still a really interesting read!

Edited by peckingbird, 14 January 2013 - 01:36 PM.


#4 Velocinag

Posted 14 January 2013 - 01:36 PM

Most of the non fiction books I read are sports related or autobiographies but I really enjoyed The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson.

#5 Beanbag Warrior

Posted 14 January 2013 - 01:41 PM

I know you said you're not really into these genres, but I loathe nonfiction, so they're the best I have to offer.

If you're into Dr Who, "A Writer's Tale" documents the progression of emails of ideas etc between the author and Russel T Davies during the 2nd last season of David Tennant's run.  It's a highly enjoyable read.

I also enjoy the two Stephen Fry Autobiographies I've read - Moab is my Washpot and Fry Chronicles.  It's an interesting look into addiction and his bipolarness

Edited by Soprano-Cat, 14 January 2013 - 01:47 PM.


#6 Rosepickles

Posted 14 January 2013 - 01:45 PM

Thanks all, i know i said no bio types but still interested in the really good ones. Its more that i dont like the sports star and celeb ones so much.
Am excited as i have a book store voucher to spend and i only usually go to the library so want to get something good!

#7 nellista

Posted 14 January 2013 - 01:49 PM

As Sugared mentioned, At Home by Bill Bryson, would tickle your history bone.

I listened to the audiobooks, and it was so good!  He read it himself and some of the interesting stuff he talks about had me stopping it and thinking back over it again..... fully intend to read the book in the future.

The author of Guns, Germs and steel also has a couple of other books out, and another coming out soon.

I am reading an advance copy of a book called Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson, and it is about the development of kitchen tools over time.  Very interesting and she has a writing style similar to Bill Bryson in a way, almost conversational.

#8 FiveAus

Posted 14 January 2013 - 01:51 PM

The Emperor of All Maladies is a good read, it's the history of cancer and its treatments in a very readable version.

Best bio I have read, by a country mile, is Michael Caines "What's it all about?"
I have read lots of bios from people of various walks of life, and a lot of them unknown to the general public, but this one stands out above all the others, as being a ripping good read.

Edited by FiveAus, 14 January 2013 - 01:52 PM.


#9 Tomahawk

Posted 14 January 2013 - 01:53 PM

History on Trial : My Day in Court with David Irving by Deborah E. Lipstadt

(Not sure if you know but David Irving is a Holocaust denier, sorry if you do)

I highly recommend it.

#10 Chicky whicky

Posted 14 January 2013 - 01:54 PM

A short history of nearly everything by Bill Bryson. Really good.

#11 nellista

Posted 14 January 2013 - 02:06 PM

Mary Roach is another good author.
I have listened to Stiff: The History of Human Cadavers.  Which I know sounds really gross, but it was very thought provoking.  Yes bits of it are gruesome, but I am in the medical field, so thats fine with me.  It talks about all sorts of stuff like crash investigations (car and plane), medical testing, and funreal arrangements.  She has a few other books too.

Another I just thought of is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.  The cell culture line used the most in medical research is the He-La cell culture, and it was a culture of cervical cancer cells from Henrietta Lacks who died int he 1950s.  Covers medical ethics and the impact on the family to this very day.

The Ghost Map by Stephen Johnson
THis is about the identification of cholera as a water born disease.  How one man tracked one outbreak down to one water pump in central london.

The Great Influenza by John M Barry.  About the flu outbreak in 1918.  Sobering and scary.  Also covers a lot of development of the history of medicine.

Gosh I am a nerd..... ....

I also read other stuff!  original.gif









#12 peckingbird

Posted 14 January 2013 - 02:18 PM

Wow, you guys have just given me about ten new options for my reading list - thanks!!

#13 Fire_fly

Posted 14 January 2013 - 02:30 PM

The man who mistook his wife for a hat. By oliver sacks
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_Who..._Wife_for_a_Hat
Explains the book better than I could. I found it fascinating.


#14 NunSoFeral

Posted 14 January 2013 - 02:33 PM

My favorites are :

One Crowded Hour - Bio of Neil Davis, Combat cameraman.
Into Thin Air - Jon Krakauer - a Mount Everest Encounter
The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiesson & also The Cloud Forest - just beautiful books.
The Hospital By the River - Catherine Hamlin. Awesome.
The Flame trees of Thika - Elspeth Huxley
Out of Africa -Karen von Blixen-something? - a memoir. Probably doesn't date too well , but given the era it is a great snapshot of privilege and hardship and the translation is pretty good IMO.
Anything by Dervla Murphy
Another one called "Blessings of a good thick skirt" - about female adventurers in late 19th and early 20th century.

EFS

Edited by gettheetoanunnery, 14 January 2013 - 02:40 PM.


#15 NunSoFeral

Posted 14 January 2013 - 02:36 PM

QUOTE (Fire_fly @ 14/01/2013, 02:30 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The man who mistook his wife for a hat. By oliver sacks
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_Who..._Wife_for_a_Hat
Explains the book better than I could. I found it fascinating.


Oooooh I forgot this one - it was excellent.

Another of his about music was great, too.

Also "The Brain that changes itself" by Norman Doidge. Loved this.

#16 bubmakes3

Posted 14 January 2013 - 02:56 PM

Brother Number One – A Political Biography of Pol Pot
David P Chandler
I read this about 12 years ago before travelling to Cambodia and it was a fascinating/shocking and eye opening  read – I had no idea the full scale of the Cambodian storey surrounding the Khmer Rouge, Vietnam war etc etc – that this happened in such recent times with the world barely noticing shocked me. I have re-read it a few times now.

Also another fave –
The Trouser People
Andrew Marshall
I read this prior to travelling to Myanmar. It’s a really interesting read – here is the blurb from Amazon…
Andrew Marshall has written an unforgettable adventure story, the wry account of two journeys into the untraveled heart of Burma. Part travelogue, part history, part reportage, The Trouser People recounts the story of George Scott, the eccentric British explorer, photographer, adventurer, and later Colonial Administrator of Burma, who introduced the Empire's best game (soccer!) to Burmese natives and to the forbidden Wa state of head-hunters, who were similarly enthusiastic about it. The second, contrasting journey is Marshall's own, taking the same dangerous path one hundred years later in a country now devastated by colonial incompetence, war, and totalitarianism. Wonderfully observed, mordantly funny, and skilfully recounted, this is journalistic travel writing at its best.


#17 Bernard Woolley

Posted 14 January 2013 - 03:02 PM

Malcolm Gladwell is more or less a nonfiction genre of his own. 'Blink' is about thinking, 'Outliers' is about human achievement, etc...

A random from my bookshelves is 'The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio'. Its about being raised by a mother who very successfully used to enter all those '25 words or less' competitions. You'd probably have to get it ordered in or try Book Depository...

#18 9ferals

Posted 14 January 2013 - 03:11 PM

Anything by Michael Pollan is pretty interesting - good stuff about the industrialisation of our food industries.

And I second books by Oliver Sacks - my favourite would be "An anthropologist from Mars".

I've also just reread a favourite about the history of the alphabet by John Mann. I can't remember the title - I think it is something like AlphaBeta.

#19 FiveAus

Posted 14 January 2013 - 03:22 PM

There are also the oldies but goodies such as James Herriot and Gerald Durrell, if you like animal/naturalist/vet type stuff.

#20 Al.Packer

Posted 14 January 2013 - 03:28 PM

I've just finished yesterday How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran, loved it, laugh out loud funny in parts, even if I disagreed with her on some issues. Have now got Moranthology on order.

Have also recently finished They **** You Up by Oliver James and The Idle Parent by Tom Hodgkinson. Before that was The Happiness Project from Gretchen Rubin.

#21 Magnus

Posted 14 January 2013 - 03:33 PM

'Smile or Die' by Barbara Ehrenreich or her other books.

I love just browsing the travel section for light non-fiction reading. I find it's great when you need something interesting, but not too in-depth. The Shadw of the Silk Road by Colin Thubron is my favourite. A beautiful, evocative writer.

Tim Flannery writes very well and makes science accessible to a broad audience.

I also like the history section for light reading, so long as you stick to social histories that mostly describe what it was like to live in a particular era and how everyday people lived. You just have to make sure you get one of those kinds and not the really long, turgid volumes that just detail event after event for hundreds of years. I liked Bedlam by Catharine Arnold, which is a history of mental institutions in Britain and Abandoned Women by Lucy Frost which is about the lives of convict women in Tasmania.

Case studies of particular places are great (either in the travel or politics sections). Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found by Sukhetu Metha is good and so is Peter Hessler's Country Driving: Three Journeys Across a Changing China and Neil MacFarquhar's The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes You a Happy Birthday. These three are a little heavier than my previous recs, but they're long format journalism, rather than being academic.

Maria Tumarkin's books are good too, and Alice Pung's, but these are more biographic.

#22 Guest_Amy Ramekin_*

Posted 14 January 2013 - 03:56 PM

Two of my favourites are 'The Omnivore's Dilemma' by Michale Pollan, and 'The Brain That Changes Itself' by Norman Doidge, about the ethics of what we eat, and brain plasticity, respectively.

#23 gabbigirl

Posted 14 January 2013 - 04:04 PM

So many of my favourite authors are here..Oliver sacks, Michael pollan, Barbara E - her book 'nickel and dimed'is a great read about minimum wage in the USA.
For a fun and informal look at the GFC boomerang by Michael Lewis is a good read.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/oct/2...el-lewis-review

I am off to reserve a bunch of other suggestions.

#24 Bunsen the feral

Posted 14 January 2013 - 04:21 PM

Just read Anna Funders Stasiland which is about peoples experiences in East Germany before the wall came down - fascinating and heartbreaking.

#25 WibbleWobble

Posted 14 January 2013 - 04:31 PM

Another vote for Oliver Sacks, fascinating reading, also The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge.

If you like books more along a political line, Dark Victory by David Marr would have to be one of my favourites.

David Marr and Marian Wilkinson, two of the country's most accomplished investigative journalists, burrow deep into the ways of the Howard government. They reveal the secret history of the campaign against boat people that began with the Tampa and ended ten extraordinary weeks later with the Australian people giving John Howard his third, most daring election victory.

Dark Victory is a thrilling and provocative account of events that shattered many of the myths Australia had about itself and changed profoundly how Australia is seen in the eyes of the world. It is also a potent reminder of the fleeting nature of truth in politics.





1 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users

 

Special Ticket Offer, Save $8!

The Essential Baby & Toddler Show is back this April! Save $8 off the door price for a limited time only!

Why I breastfed my son until he was three

The fact that I not only breastfed my son, but breastfed him for three and a half years, seems pretty incredible in retrospect.

Do babies and young children see ghosts?

Do babies and young children see ghosts? If you’ve pondered the question, you’re not alone.

15 years with Essential Baby: meet Therese

"Life has a funny way of giving you what you need when you need it the most."

Mum causes a stir by taking a stand against leggings

A mum has found herself the subject of debate after claiming tight bottoms cause lustful thoughts in men.

Don't set a parenting goal for 2015 - do this instead

The problem with goal setting as a parent is the measure. How do we really know if we’re succeeding?

5 pregnancy myths that just won't go away

When you're expecting, it often seems like everyone is keen to offer advice about what you should and shouldn't do in the interests of your health and wellbeing.

RPA hospital contacting mums after discovering vaccine storage fault

Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPA) is trying to contact women who had babies at the facility after discovering a fault in a refrigerator containing vaccines.

'Nutella' not a baby name, French court says

A French court has blocked parents from naming their baby girl after the hazelnut spread Nutella, arguing it would make her the target of mockery.

Why I'm never calling myself 'just a mum' again

I’ve grown three human beings. I feed them, dress them, teach them, care for them and love them 24 hours a day. Yet for eight years, when I meet new people and they’ve asked me what I do, I tell them: “I’m just a mum”.

Rosie Batty named 2015 Australian of the Year

One year ago, Rosie Batty could not have imagined she'd be where she is. Tonight the grieving mum who put domestic violence on the national agenda was named Australian of the Year.

Five reasons to hug more

Hugging – some of us thrive on it, even depend on it – and then there are those who don't care for it really. So, are they missing out?

Help - my three-year-old has started throwing tantrums

My daughter never went through the "terrible twos" but began throwing wild tantrums shortly after her third birthday.

That's commitment

First peek at Sonia Kruger's daughter Maggie

"She smells so good, I could eat her," Kruger tells co-host David Campbell.

Mum assists in own caesarean surgery

A mum who partly delivered her own twins during a caesarean has encouraged other women to take control of their birthing experience.

How to handle common childhood regressions

Regression can be a natural and common part of development prompted by a variety of factors, but that doesn't make it less frustrating.

Disgruntled dad's pram ad goes viral

When buying a second hand pram, there are lots of things to take into consideration. 

Man discovers he's a dad after finding 55-year-old letter

Discovering you are about to father a baby is startling enough - never mind finding out you have a 61-year-old son.

15 thoughts mums have during a tantrum

Ranging from mild to feral and triggered by events both minor and major, tantrums certainly keep life interesting.

Natural pain relief in the early stages of labour

While managing labour pains on your own can be daunting, there are a number of natural pain relief options to help you cope until you are admitted to hospital.

Win an Octonauts prize pack

To celebrate the launch of Octonauts Live! Operation Reef Shield, a spectacular underwater adventure live on stage, we are giving away an amazing Octonauts prize pack to one lucky fan.

Download now: Essential Kids Activity Finder app

Got bored kids? Quickly find the best activities for kids wherever you are in Australia with the Essential Kids app.

 
Advertisement
 
Advertisement
 
 
 

What's hot on EB

Forgotten Baby Syndrome claims the life of toddler

One baby dies every eight days in the back of a car in the US, victims of 'forgotten baby syndrome'.

For a brief time, I was touched by an angel

For a brief time, I was touched by an angel. You stole my heart, and changed me into the women I am today.

Chinese woman gives birth to quintuplets

After six years of trying for a baby, a couple’s dreams have come true many times over after the mum gave birth to quintuplets this week.

Chrissie Swan has reached her "sex quota"

Chrissie Swan says she and her partner have sex once a year due to her fear of falling pregnant.

Stars help save choking babies

It's an important lesson to learn, but one that busy new mums and dads might overlook until it's too late.

New Girl star Zooey Deschanel pregnant

Actress Zooey Deschanel is expecting her first child with her producer boyfriend Jacob Pechenik.

16 times 'dad reflexes' saved the day

Of course, in some cases they may be the ones who actually got their child into a precarious position in the first place, but we'll ignore that for now.

Couple's 'non-traditional' pregnancy announcement goes viral

Knowing you are not the father of your pregnant wife's baby would usually indicate a rocky relationship ahead for traditional parents.

The trials and tribulations of identical triplet newborns

Pip Donnelly is still playing spot the difference with her newborn identical triplets, Isabelle, Georgina and Frankie.

Win an Octonauts prize pack

To celebrate the launch of Octonauts Live! Operation Reef Shield, a spectacular underwater adventure live on stage, we are giving away an amazing Octonauts prize pack to one lucky fan.

Earthquake baby thriving five years on

Jenny Alexis is lucky to be alive after spending four days buried in the rubble of the 2010 Haitian earthquake, but now she's a thriving five year old.

Please don't say I'm lucky because I was adopted

On the one hand I was having a regular life with friends and sports and sleepovers and school. But I was also always wondering: Did my mother love me? What was wrong with me?

An open letter to non-parents who offer advice on child-rearing

Kitty, when you’re the parent of my child you’re welcome to wade in with an opinion – but until then, I’d prefer you to have a supportive ear and a glass of wine ready.

Couple arrested over baby gun video

A US couple faces charges after investigators say they found mobile phone videos showing the woman's 12-month-old daughter putting a handgun in her mouth.

NSW Health dumps 10-year limit on frozen embryos

A 10-year time limit on storing frozen embryos that were created with donor sperm has been dropped by the NSW government.

How my happy-go-lucky husband became a monster

Sharan Nicholson-Rogers watched her husband change from a happy-go-lucky police officer into an unpredictable man prone to violent and emotional outbursts.

Dads-to-be experience hormonal changes, too

Dads-to-be experience hormonal changes in line with their pregnant partners, a new study shows.

'They were just doing their job': mum of toddler killed in police chase gone wrong

"They were just doing their job. I feel so sorry for them. It is all just too sad."

Miscarriages to be formally recognised by NSW government

Women who miscarry will be able to obtain an optional "recognition of loss" certificate as a formal recognition of their often heartbreaking loss.

Cafe cubby house 'too noisy' for neighbours

Teenage parties, domestic disputes, or raucous late night pubs are the things that usually come to mind when you think neighbourhood noise complaints.

Dad films baby playing with snake

Most parents would not consider a snake an appropriate playmate for their baby, but a US dad who filmed his daughter playing with a python has defended himself against criticism.

Clever breastfeeding products

Check out this range of products designed to help make your breastfeeding journey more enjoyable, manageable and convenient.

 

Back to School Offer

Findababysitter.com.au

We've got you covered for this school year. Use www.findababysitter.com.au to meet local nannies now.

 
Advertisement
 
 
Essential Baby and Essential Kids is the place to find parenting information and parenting support relating to conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids, maternity, family budgeting, family travel, nutrition and wellbeing, family entertainment, kids entertainment, tips for the family home, child-friendly recipes and parenting. Try our pregnancy due date calculator to determine your due date, or our ovulation calculator to predict ovulation and your fertile period. Our pregnancy week by week guide shows your baby's stages of development. Access our very active mum's discussion groups in the Essential Baby forums or the Essential Kids forums to talk to mums about conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids and parenting lifestyle. Essential Baby also offers a baby names database of more than 22,000 baby names, popular baby names, boys' names, girls' names and baby names advice in our baby names forum. Essential Kids features a range of free printable worksheets for kids from preschool years through to primary school years. For the latest baby clothes, maternity clothes, maternity accessories, toddler products, kids toys and kids clothing, breastfeeding and other parenting resources, check out Essential Baby and Essential Kids.